Carpe Diem!

Life happens, and I often have clients who have to cancel, re-arrange, or postpone trips because of unexpected developments in their lives — some happy, like pregnancy or a new job, but some that are more somber, like a broken engagement or an illness or death in the family. Shannon and Phil were dealing with her stepmom’s terminal illness, but decided to “roll the dice” and take the 30th birthday getaway to Las Vegas that they had been looking forward to. Her feedback is below. I absolutely love her “seize the adventure while you can” spirit 🙂

Hi Ann,

I’m so sorry for the huge delay in my response regarding our Vegas trip. My stepmother’s health was a roller coaster for the last two months, starting two days before we left for Vegas and sadly ending two weeks ago with her passing. I let a lot of things slide during that time.

The trip was very successful. Our room was incredible and we took full advantage, including a romantic room service dinner in the room’s “lounge” overlooking the strip (the view was an upgrade courtesy of you tipping the hotel to Phil’s 30th, thank you very much.)

Shannon and Phil 2

The scene was a little quieter than I expected, to be honest (and I’m not that wild) but we had a great time.

Highlights included:

– The luxury race track   where Phil zipped around in his beloved Nissan GTR and I even sat shotgun for 5 laps with a pro drag racer. (Quick tip: It’s cheaper to take the provided limo to the Exotics race track than a cab.)

Shannon and Phil 1

Shannon and Phil 5

Stealing the pot against a hardened poker player’s full house with a straight flush at 3am. You should have seen his face!

Winning $100 on a single penny bet (not just a penny machine but literally a 1 cent bet)

– And an unbelievable, 2 Michelin star dinner in front of the Bellagio fountains at Picasso right before we headed off to see my college roommate perform as a Bally’s showgirl. Picasso is an absolute must for anyone who loves fine dining, and even though we sat outside we were encouraged to explore all the Picasso artwork gracing the restaurant’s walls.

Shannon and Phil 4

Shannon and Phil 7

My stepmom’s illness and passing has served as a stark reminder that life is short and it’s worth it to seize adventure while you can.


Shannon and Phil 6

I will send you a separate email about these, but my father wants to take a family trip this fall to a Caribbean island with me, Phil, my brother and stepbrothers, and I still want to do Paris for my 30th this Spring. Of course we want to work with you as you have done such a wonderful job with Vegas and Palm Island.

~ Shannon

Paris, Las Vegas

Here’s a great trip report from some clients who just spent a much-needed long weekend reconnecting with one another in Las Vegas (without their kids!)  Pay attention to her recommendation about bringing good walking shoes — I totally agree :

Hi Ann!

We had a GREAT time. Good thing we took the 7:00 flight out, or I don’t know if we would have made it! The shuttle to hotel was great…nice guys. We checked in early at Paris, and they gave us a suite room which included a sitting area. It was a corner room, overlooking the strip. Very nice! The food at Paris catered to our kind of eating…fresh salads and yogurt, cheese plates, lots of fresh fruit. The restaurant that sits on the street (Mon Ami something) was wonderful. We got a late breakfast. A fun place to people watch while you sit outside. 

I think Paris attracts an older crowd (which doesn’t matter to us), but the older crowd smokes more. Paris has nicer places to sit and have a snack, but we ended up going next door to Planet Hollywood….younger crowd, less smoke (or better filtration system) for coffee in the morning.

Paris has a pool that was open while we were there…a great getaway from the noise. I sat there and read for hours in the afternoons. It’s a big, sprawling area. Not a lot of people were there because it’s off-season, but one day, it was 68 degrees outside. With the shelter of the hotel by the pool, it felt more like 75-80. I actually wore a bathing suit!

 We ate at a lot of great restaurants:

 CraftSteak in MGM (excellent)

 Koi in Planet Hollywood (great)

 Red Square in Mandalay Bay (great)

 Mix Nightclub in Mandalay Bay-awesome view

But the one that is most memorable is NobHill Tavern in MGM. Michael Mina is a San Fran chef. The service could not have been better, and the food was fabulous. The decor is simple, so it’s a great getaway from all the glitz. We both loved it, and would definitely go back.

We rented a car on Thursday and went to see Red Rocks Canyon and Hoover Dam, both highly recommended. There are lots of tour groups that you can join, but we wanted to go on our own.

Saw Jubilee! We can check that off our list…Vegas showgirls…check. It was a lot of fun though…very kitschy. We may have been the youngest ones there.

The book I brought was pretty bad, so I searched for any place to buy a book. Nope. NO bookstores in Las Vegas. I ended up downloading one onto my iPhone.

One thing I did not consider was all the walking, a minimum of five miles a day. The first full day I was there, I probably walked 15 miles. I packed thinking it would be cooler, and that I’d want to dress up and look chic without any kids. I should have brought more athletic clothes because I wore my sneakers every day. There are women who are out walking all day in heels, but I’m not one of them. It was yoga pants and sneakers for me. I had to go out and get more while I was there.

We had a great time, reconnected with each other, loved our room, ate healthy, and relaxed. Thank you so much for guiding us through this. It was overwhelming there, and it was nice to have a compass. 

He says his conference is in Palm Beach next year…we’ll be giving you a call!!

Thanks Ann!


Going to the chapel…

Have you ever dreamed of running off to Vegas for a quickie wedding? Or wondered whether people really do that anymore?   

 Well, I have (wondered…not dreamed about it for myself), and my questions have now been answered! As part of the “Wedding MBA” conference in Las Vegas this week, we were treated to a tour of some of the most popular stand-alone wedding chapels in the city, and it was a real eye-opener. The most surprising part? It wasn’t the pink Cadillac that drove the bride and groom down the aisle, the Elvis impersonators who perform hundreds of weddings a day, or the drive-through lane at another chapel. Nope. The most surprising thing to me was that many of these chapels seem so NORMAL.

Modern white wedding chapel

We saw chapels that felt like traditional churches, a rustic chapel that looked like it was lifted out of a Tuscan hill town, and another that was a sleek, white space in which any modern bride would feel right at home. We met the wedding planners who work hand-in-hand with out-of-town couples — who often book their Vegas weddings months (or even years) in advance — and we learned that the reasons for a Vegas wedding are as varied as the couples themselves.  Some do it to save money, some are seeking a unique and quirky atmosphere, and, yes, some are doing it on the spur of the moment and like the fact that there’s no waiting period or blood test required.

Tuscan wedding chapel

From what I saw, there’s a Las Vegas wedding experience that’s right for just about anyone, and I can’t wait until I can help the right clients plan a “Vegas-tastic” destination wedding of their own!

 Elvis wedding officiant

You provided excellent guidance for us. I appreciated that you really had us think about what was most important to us when we were selecting the right cruise – and not to totally focus on what other people had to say. THANK YOU for helping to make this a memorable trip for our family! It really was a trip of a lifetime!

Clare and Mark (family cruise to Alaska)

The level of service we experienced was out of this world (and we did NOT make it easy on Ann). We weren’t quite sure where we wanted to go, when we would be able to go, or what “vibe” we were going for. After asking us some key questions (what we liked, didn’t like, why, etc.) Ann helped us narrow down our trip details and planned the honeymoon of our dreams. She helped book some of our excursions, answered some emergency questions while abroad and was always available/willing to help. I think it’s safe to say we won’t be using anyone else for future travel planning – Ann is a rockstar!

Carli (Italy and Spain)